From Pronghorns to Spiderwort

There is nothing that gets the juices flowing in a wildlife photographer like, wild mammals. Especially those that fit the definition of the larger mammals.

Pronghorns, are a wonderful species of reasonably large herd animals, that are indigenous to North America. As a photographer, I love Pronghorns. They are expressive, active, and penetrating creatures.

The first two images below, were made in almost the same spot in Wyoming. They were however, made on two different days and under different light as far as both quantity and quality. The difference in color and tone is considerable.Copy of DSC_2748

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The final image was made later that same year in South Dakota.


Members of the dear family, like this Whitetail Doe, always seem to strike a cord with image viewers. This so called lady, appears to be sticking her tongue out at me. The picture was made in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Wisconsin.Copy of DSC_0006

This Mule Deer Buck was photographed in Wyoming as he lazily munched some grasses. Unique compositions like this are sometimes criticized by photographers of large mammals. You know, too bad you couldn’t get the whole animal in the picture. Personally, I considered it my job to bring people varied “looks” to any subject, including large mammals.

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Being around Mule Deer and Whitetails is pretty much the same thing. Western South Dakota is the only location where I have found both species. In fact, I saw both species within a mile of one another.

What in the world is this bird of prey? I can tell that it is a captive (zoo shot) bird, and that I photographed it while it was behind glass. I am guessing the old indoor aviary at the Milwaukee, WI Zoo, but a guess is all it is. It is surely a film shot copied into digital. Not a great image, but a cool bird.


Lately I’ve been stuck on the theme of American White Pelican flocks in flight. This is just one more that I personally like. I really enjoy the “lift off” pictures where each bird is in a different pose as they attempt to gain altitude. Always pan with the birds and you will quickly catch up to them. When you start shooting hold the button down and keep firing. This is especially important if you are using manual focus.

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Of course every wildlife photographer has a specialty and mine has seemed to have been, getting flight shots of birds from the posterior. It’s actually easier to use manual focus in flight or running shots if they are moving away from you.

This is a Snow Goose in New Mexico.


Splish, splash!!! I (barely) caught this White Egret fishing right in front of me as it was doing so directly under a Great-blue heron nest that was full of young birds, and one parent. I wasn’t sure whether to look up or down. But I caught sight of the bird beginning its strike out of the corner of my eye. Certainly not the best job I have done with this subject but I thought I would share it anyway.


Shorebirds are among the most fun critters to spend time with. They are always busy and once they finally accept you, they will tolerate a lot. This one is aptly named the Spotted Sandpiper, and the camouflage possibilities within its normal hunting territory are obvious.

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There’s nothing like a big bird to make photography easier, and Sandhill Cranes are big birds. They can be found in many different habitats and are usually pretty busy for their size. That means a varied supply of poses.


Whether you are in a spectacular location or not, land or waterscape photography can prosper by its simplicity. Complex usually only works when the photographer can find patterns or a rhythm.  Simple, is elegant.

This first image, of a fallen tree limb and rushing water, was created in northern Wisconsin on medium format film centuries ago. Well, a long time ago.

The water is soft and smooth, and the limb is textured and hard. Those contrasts made my time spent at this insignificant location as meaningful for me as a photographer, as have most if the national parks I have visited.

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One well-known national location where simplicity is the rule rather than the exception, is White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Eventually, you work with so many sand patterns that you begin to search for contrasts. In this shot, I chose just a “sliver” of the distant mountains.

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Ultimately, when you appraise all of the subjects that nature photographers create images of, the most versatile are flowers. I have attempted on these pages, to show you not only the amazing visual diversity of the flowers themselves, but the many different ways in which a photographer can interpret them. I am betting that each of you can uncover even more ways to capture the essence of these amazing subjects.

I chose for this Spiderwort, the traditional single plant, clean background method which I love so much. Only the lights and shadows are unique. I needed a fast shutter speed of 1/320th due to a persistent nagging breeze. That called for an aperture of f 6.3 which also meant that only the blossoms would be in focus. I am okay with the stem and the leaf being soft.

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I have known wildlife and landscape photographers, who enjoy flowers but refuse to photograph them. Occasionally it’s because they don’t want to crawl around and contort themselves to make a pictures, but most often it is because the subject is not macho enough for them. They are of course men. Their loss has been my gain for many years.

I wish each of you a warm and happy Thanksgiving. It’s always great to remember that Thanksgiving, means “giving thanks”.

God Bless,


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